Originally home to native species of freshwater fish, the aquarium that calls the Crawford Hall lobby home has recently undergone extensive remodeling. John Griffioen, an LSSU biology major, recognized the potential of a fully functioning coral reef system in a high-traffic area on the University's campus. With the help of generous companies and individuals, students have raised well over $3,000 in supplies, equipment, and livestock for this project. Over the course of two semesters, the existing fish were given new homes, the tank was drained, thoroughly cleaned, plumbed, and refilled with saltwater, live rock, and sand. The new system saw the addition of an overflow, a sump filtration system, and a new lighting fixture, capable of supporting the corals that would soon call this aquarium home. Throughout the course of the next few semesters livestock was added to the system, and various upgrades and tweaks were made to the plumbing and lighting systems.
The saltwater aquarium is now home to a variety of organisms. The most popular organisms are likely the mated pair of ocellaris clownfish that have adopted not one, but two of the bubble-tip anemones in the tank. The aquarium is also home to other species of reef fish including wrasses and a sand-sifting diamond goby. Additionally, the reef tank harbors many species of invertebrates. Emerald crabs, cleaner shrimp, blue-leg hermit crabs, and cerith snails all cruise the rocks and sand looking to pick up their next meal. Various soft, small polyp, and large polyp corals also have found a place on the reef. These corals range from colonial organisms such as zooanthids, to larger stony corals such as frogspawn, or the fan-like gorgonian that dominates much of one side.
Although this reef aquarium supports several species of organisms it provides only a hint of what
an actual coral reef looks like. Herein lies the ultimate
purpose of this display, to bring awareness to
the beauty, diversity, and delicacy of coral reef ecosystems.
Coral reefs rival tropical rainforests in biodiversity and
are certainly the most diverse aquatic system in the world.
Reefs harbor 25% of all known marine species and are
unique in their structure and function. The interactions
amongst species and the amazing adaptations found on the reef
are hard to comprehend without a visual example. However, these
incredibly intricate ecosystems are also quite delicate and
are facing destruction. Pollution, improper collection, and
overfishing threaten these complex and beautiful communities.
The future of this saltwater aquarium now lies in the area of education and awareness. The student organizers of this project hope to soon display informative signs near the aquarium to raise awareness within the University community about the complexity and importance of coral reef ecosystems. Equipment and livestock changes will be pursued to improve the health and appeal of the system. Currently the project is run almost exclusively on donations from aquarium companies and generous community members. If you would like to donate to this project and further the work of these students, please contact Lake Superior State University staff member Jessica Wesolek.
Generous Contributions Provided:
Richard & Karen Serfass
Moby Dick Pet Store Inc.
In memory of Ray Reilly - Professor Emeritus